Notes from an Art Class in 1998

The following are some short notes I took at a painting class on September 30, 1998. The place was the Maryland College of Art (MICA), and this was a night class that was part of the continuing education program. We would bring our paintings in and group critique them, and the rest of the time we looked at slides of other artists and discussed what we liked/didn’t like about them. I took the class for one semester, made one interesting painting, and then went on a cross country road trip, and stopped making art (or at least “painting,”) for a long time.

“David Reed – Abstract – “Solomon’s Justice.”
Rebecca Purdum – “Footnote and Fumbling.” This painting gives evidence in favor of the collective unconscious. I wish I could open my mouth and speak. Maybe I should have spent the money for this class on a Jungian therapist.
Vija Celmin – “Burning Man.” “

Now we’re talking about art in relationship to politics. I’m about as interested in this as the dog on the other side of the room. But wait – someone just brought up Basquiat! I don’t know what the point is but it’s kind of interesting. Something about stealing spray paint and saying, “fuck you,” to the middle class. But then Warhol gets a hold of him and I guess it was difficult to maintain his rebelliousness.

Really? More like heroin got a hold of him and it was difficult to maintain his respiratory status. Now that I have read the Andy Warhol diaries, I can see how shallow and inaccurate this sentiment is. Not to mention that their collaborations are amazing. Especially this one:

Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol, Third Eye, 1985


Braque = Cal Ripken
Picasso = Mark Macguire

If I could open my mouth, perhaps I wouldn’t need to paint.

David Park.

“Spend more time on your palette.”
“I’ll take a quick squint through them.”

Ellen Phalen – “Ballerina.”
Jessica Diamond – “It’s hard to be a zen master.”

William Bailey – still life, only paints objects from memory.

Terror of photography. Snapshot = death, because the moment is gone.
(Antonio Lopez Garcia)

David Storey – 50’s graphics. Looks like the video for “New Frontier.” (Donald Fagin)

Diebenkorn “negotiating and renegotiating the internal politics.” Duh. Why do we have to explain it? Why can’t we just look at it…. quietly.

In this art class we were looking at slides and writing down the names of the paintings/painters that resonated with us. But what was the point of writing down these names? You see it in a slide and then what? There was no internet to look up these images for future reference. There were no phones so I could take a picture of the slide. These weren’t paintings I could easily go see at the BMA or National Gallery. But I dutifully wrote the names down. So I tried to recreate what I was looking at by searching all of these artists and guessing at what I was seeing. The interesting thing is that my aesthetic has remained mostly unchanged over 25 years. It’s kind of amazing. I mean – I’m pretty sure every cell in my body has regenerated (except for my teeth) but somehow there is something called “taste,” and it remains intact. How and why?

I was recently cleaning my basement and found one of the old paintings from this time period. I have no idea what I was thinking when I painted it. It kind of looks like 3 floating maternal spirits. I like it and it makes me think maybe I should pick up where I left off many years ago.